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Blazers’ Damian Lillard Carrying Portland to Playoffs



Damian Lillard

As the NBA bubble regular season winds down to a dramatic finish in the Western Conference, Damian Lillard continues to be the MVP of the bubble, with another performance to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to victory, and close in on the 8th seed in the West.

Lillard dropped 61 points in a thriller, clutch victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, and Lillard knows that he, and his team, are putting the NBA on notice.

“Put some respect on my f—ing name,” Lillard said over and over again, as the team celebrated the crucial victory, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

It marked Lillard third 60-plus point game of the season, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history with three or more such games in a single season. Chamberlain’s mind-blowing marks include 15 such games in 1961-1962, and 9 in 1962-1963.

Now, Lillard and the Blazers shift focus to the Brooklyn Nets.

“That’s the most important game of our lives,” Lillard said, during an on-court interview with TNT following the game. “Tonight was great. We said we need one win. We’re going to focus on one game. We got this one done. And that’s the most important one. We got to finish it out right.”

Lillard also acknowledged the feat he had accomplished with his latest performance.

“First of all, I’m just happy to be in that type of company. It’s an honor,” Lillard said of being associated with Chamberlain. “Tonight couldn’t have been better timing for that type of game.”

“Nobody wanted to come into this bubble and make the playoffs more than Dame,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “And we’ve got one more game to go, but his leadership — obviously, his game speaks for itself — but he’s bringing the team along with him.”

Lillard also spoke of his cousin Brandon “Chef B” Johnson, who prepared food for Lillard, CJ McCollum and other Blazers players over the years.

Johnson died in May.

“He was just the person who was on top of a lot of things for me and wore a lot of hats for me,” Lillard said. “He was my right-hand man. Everything I needed, he did for me, basically, and losing him, it hurt. … I just try to continue what I feel like he would want me to do, and I just been dealing with it that way.

“Just try to continue on the path I know he was proud of.”

Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.